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Doug Sanders

ojime

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I thought I'd begin a new topic following some questions posted in the ukibori thread. The Kinsey Ojime book is indeed a very good one. Perhaps you can find a used copy online, Kathleen? Also try Paragon Books in Chicago- they've got just about the largest collection of Asian art publications I've ever seen. A little pricey, but good for hard to find titles.

 

Anyhow, The Kinsey book is wonderful for showing a wide range of ojime materials and styles- antique to contemporary. My only criticism is that dimensions are not given for the illustrated pieces. From other reference books in my collection, the size of ojime varies quite a bit- dimensions seem to be increasing with contemporary pieces- many are now over an inch. I don't know how this is being received with the collecting community or netsuke scholars. Historically, I suppose one would find an ojime in correct scale with the sagemono (inro, tonkotsu (tobacco box), kiseruzutsu (pipe case) - apologies if spelling is not exactly correct :lol: ) it was accompanying. Ojime are generally larger for tobacco/smoking related pieces, at least from my experience viewing museum collections of sagemono ensembles. Inro generally need a smaller, spherical ojime so as to not chip the delicate lacquer surface of many examples.

 

For my work, I try to keep the scale under an inch- generally 3/4" or 1/2" . I drill holes that are 1/8" diameter. This is something I haven't studied with historical models- it just seems to work out well with the 4-strand braided silk cord (doubled up when passing through the hole) I make and sell with the beads.

Many ojime of non-metallic material have a metal cord-hole liner- basically a cylinder of silver or gold lining the hole- it is not something I have done yet- but it really serves to finish off the piece and elevate its appearance. There is a netsuke dealer , Norman Sandfield, who sells "ojime miseru" which are mounts that run through the cord hole, and have a loop on top so that the ojime can be worn as a pendant on a chain.

I've created a few that have two parallel cord holes, which still function to tighten a cord over an inro, but present different compositional possibilities. Many ojime play on this theme of 'cord grasping' - you see monkeys and oni (demons) grasping the cord, or snakes slithering up them.

 

Other than that, I suppose anything goes these days with themes, materials and so on. It is often nice to carve a netsuke/ojime set- there's a lot of potential to use these two forms in thematic juxtaposition, or complementary relationships.

 

Go for it!

 

-Doug

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Thanks for the excellent information! I have nothing to add at this point.

 

Would you be willing to describe how you make the 4-strand braided silk cords? Natasha Popova sent me a description for hers, and if she gives me permission to post it I will do that. I am curious about how you make your cords!

 

Janel

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post-10-1110377328_thumb.jpgcourtesy of complex-weavers.org

 

Janel,

There's a craft called Kumihimo, or cord braiding which involves several types of looms. The most basic sort is the marudai, which is a disk 8" or so in diameter with a large hole drilled down the middle. Bobbins hold individual groups of strands. As you cross bobbins over the disk in a set of moves (to generate individual patterns and structures), the resulting braid descends down through the center, on a counterweight.

 

There are simpler ways to make a four strand braid, with just your fingers, and something called a French braider (I think) which is a wooden tool with 4 nails at one end. You use a crochet hook to manipulate the strands. With 8+ bobbins however, and respectable lengths of cord, the marudai is the way to go. Also, by using different ratios of counterweight vs total weight of bobbins, the tension set into the cord can be changed. Stiff cords which can hold a bend vs loose, floppy cords. Steady tension is much more difficult with finger braiding.

Most netsuke cords, from photographs I've seen seem to be 4 strand or a couple of variations on 8 strand braids. I keep colors muted and solitary- but there are all sorts of sequences to create stripes, chevrons, polka dots, etc.

 

I made a marudai for my wife and purchased bobbins, but I've read film canisters filled with shot can work acceptably well. There's always something else to learn, eh?

 

-Doug

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Hi Doug,

 

Years ago I purchased a couple of paperback books about kumihimo. I did not give it a serious try then, but may do so when I come across the right materials for the cord. Thanks for the information.

 

Janel

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I have made the twisted cord before, I learned it from the ladies who said "every girl knows that" But what they didn`t inform me was the reverse twist after the fold. Is that to control that cords tendancy to keep twisting after its made. or? cooch

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That french braider, is that the old thread spool/four nails with string or wire we played with in gradeschool? cooch

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"Is that to control that cords tendancy to keep twisting after its made. or? cooch"

 

I think that is the way a multi-strand cord is plied. Yarn has two, three, four strands or one might say "three ply". The reverse twist is likely what controls the strands from untwisting and makes the yarn or cord straight.

 

Janel

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I'm certainly no expert on the vast world of braiding or fibers, but I think Natasha's type is thought of as a twist. The book we have on Kumihimo makes a distinction between twists and braids. I effect, Natasha's version is a rope- relying on a fiber's tendency to hold a twist (either 'z' or 's' - clockwise or counterclockwise). Kumihimo craft, though not knotting, is more closely akin to it. Each composite strand intertwines to a greater extent- it doesn't rely on the twisting effect

 

That's about the extent of my knowledge.

 

post-10-1110549906_thumb.jpg

 

This picture of a bead I carved shows the braid I make. It has a much different appearance to Natasha's.

 

...and yes, I thing the French braid thing is just a glorified spool and four nails :)

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I made a small marudai about 10 years ago (4 in disc , 4 spools) I used crochet cotton. What would you recomend? The book I got the idea from was using waxed linen. I would like to haul it out again. Sometimes even the smallest bit of knowledge is handy

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My wife and I started out using DMC brand cotton embroidery floss- it's cheap and comes in 100's of colors. We used this while getting a hang of the technique, but quickly learned cotton gets hairy, and picks up hand oils in no time. The silk is MUCH more expensive, but well worth it in terms of quality of finished product.

 

On my display table, I've begun selling beads with a length of braided silk cord. It has allowed me to ask higher prices, and it perks up the table.

 

I order silk from braidershand.com. There's an artificial silk called biron, which is about half the price and comes in as many colors. I think this would work well too.

 

As far as which is best, I guess it depends on your application. My wife is on a braiding discussion group and some people use all sorts of crazy fibers for braids. I'm a little more conservative and stick to the quiet stuff. Waxed linen would make a very stiff braid and might interfere with the way the strands fall together as you cross bobbins over each other. Still, on a knife handle wrapped with waxed linen braid, I think the result would be very nice. :)

Maybe a braided cord of leather lacing as a handle wrap...

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